Vail Resorts outlines details for PCMR ski season, including reservation system
Park City Mountain Resort owner Vail Resorts on Thursday outlined a blueprint for operations during the ski season that, crucially, introduces a reservation system for people wanting to ski or snowboard on any given day during what will be the first North American ski season held in the era of social distancing.
The Vail Resorts announcement ends months of speculation about the mechanics of the ski season at PCMR. It was timed three months before the traditional start of the season at many places in North America and as the spread of the novel coronavirus, which forced an early end to the most recent ski season, continues.
The plans are designed to manage the crowds at PCMR and the other resorts as well as ensure the skiers and snowboarders practice social distancing on the slopes and elsewhere on the properties.
The reservation system appears to be especially important to the overall plans. According to Vail Resorts, reservations will be required each day of the season throughout the firm’s resorts in North America. Vail Resorts says there is a possibility the reservation system will not be required at certain resorts later in the season.
People who hold a pass are allowed on Nov. 6 to begin reserving dates to ski or snowboard between Dec. 8 and April 4. Prior to Dec. 8, Vail Resorts will release times for reservations a week ahead. Reservations will be made online or on the phone.
Vail Resorts will offer the pass holders what are known as Priority Reservation Days, with the holders having up to seven of those days. The pass holders also will have the ability to book days within one week of their selected date, known as week-of reservations. The early season period, prior to Dec. 8, will allow as many reservations as are available, Vail Resorts said.
The company said it expects “that for many days throughout the season, pass holders will be able to make a reservation within the week of their desired date.”
Lift tickets, meanwhile, will be sold starting on Dec. 8. Lift tickets will be sold with a reservation for a certain date at one of the resorts, meaning a further reservation is not required. The Dec. 8 start date of lift ticket sales means only people holding passes will be on the slopes prior to that date. Opening day at PCMR is scheduled for Nov. 20.
“It has been our goal to design an approach that can remain in place for all of the 2020/21 season. We do not want to be caught off guard or find ourselves needing to make reactionary changes. Striving for consistency will provide our guests, employees and communities with as much predictability as possible this season, which we believe is worth the extra effort,” Rob Katz, the CEO of Vail Resorts, said in a prepared statement as the plans were outlined.
Vail Resorts also outlined its plans for physical distancing. People who are together will be able to ride lifts and gondolas with each other. People who are not together will be seated with space between them. Two people will be seated on the opposite sides of a four-person lift while two people or two pairs of people will be seated on the opposite sides of a six-person lift. Two people will be seated on opposite sides of gondolas. Physical distancing will also be practiced in restaurants on the mountain and locations where people rent skis and snowboards.
The information from Vail Resorts did not include details about the capacity of the resorts. A spokesperson said capacity details have not been finalized and are expected to evolve as the resorts better understand the operations as well as through consultation with the communities where the resorts are located. The spokesperson said the capacity should be adequate on most days to accommodate anyone wanting to ski or snowboard on a specific date.
The Vail Resorts information released on Thursday will be important to a wide swath of the Park City community. Many PCMR skiers and snowboarders now have some of the key information about the season that they desired prior to making a decision regarding season passes. The business community, meanwhile, can better prepare for the ski season with some of the details having been made public.
More information is available at ewhile a letter from Katz is available at news.vailresorts.com/corporate/vailresorts/winter-operating-plan-2020-letter.htm.
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